Step-by-step: Dig­i­tal air­brush tech­niques

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - ImagineNation Artist Q&A -

1 I cre­ate a rough sketch based on a ref­er­ence photo of a model to get the cor­rect pose, then do a more clean line-work ver­sion on a sep­a­rate layer, which in­cludes the key char­ac­ter­is­tics of So­rayama’s robot girls. I do this pretty quickly to cap­ture the over­all feel­ing, but the more you spend on de­vel­op­ing clean and ac­cu­rate line-work, the bet­ter your fi­nal de­sign will be. 2 Next, I paint a sim­ple gra­di­ent in the back­ground us­ing my cus­tom air­brush and block in the sil­hou­ette of the girl. I use a blueish grey colour to cap­ture the plain ma­te­rial colour of chrome with­out re­flec­tions. From this point on I use this sil­hou­ette as a layer mask: this en­ables me to keep the outer edges of the robot/hu­man char­ac­ter clean. 3 I grad­u­ally move from the mid-val­ues in the paint­ing to­wards the darks and lights. I only use Pho­to­shop’s Soft brushes to em­u­late the orig­i­nal tech­nique and try to repli­cate the clas­sic glow­ing re­flec­tions from the metal­lic sur­faces. I also start to push back my orig­i­nal line draw­ing in the same way that I would cover it with paint, as if I were us­ing a tra­di­tional air­brush. 4 I in­tro­duce hard edges, much like how tra­di­tional air­brush artists use phys­i­cal masks. I use the Lasso tools to cre­ate se­lec­tions and paint in­side those. I also paint in thin seam lines as small de­tails to break up the big­ger shapes. As a fi­nal touch I paint the typ­i­cal glow­ing re­flec­tions and add some grain and noise ef­fects, to recre­ate the feel of early small-sized air­brush works.

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